👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,852 words (7 minutes).
NBA teams have been steadily abandoning the back-to-the-basket game for years thanks to the three-point explosion and the corresponding rise of stretch fours (and stretch fives). But this season, post-ups are bordering on extinction.
By the numbers: In 2005, 22 teams finished at least 10% of their possessions with a post-up, and zero teams had a post-up rate below 5%.
Highest post-up rates:
Lowest post-up rates:
The bottom line: If low post masters like Hakeem Olajuwon and Kevin McHale played in today's NBA, they wouldn't be pulling off "Dream Shakes" and "up-and-unders" — they'd be shooting threes and living closer to the perimeter.
But wait ... "Don't read the post-up its last rites just yet," writes The Ringer's Rob Mahoney. Rookie Zion Williamson's modern twist "has already breathed new life into the traditional move" (i.e. sprinting down the floor and posting up before the defense can get set).
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
The NFL and NFLPA have informally agreed to restructure the postseason and add a seventh team from each conference for a total of 14, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
Looking back: Here are the teams from the last 10 years that missed the postseason as the No. 7 seed but would have made the playoffs under the proposed format.
The big takeaways:
What to watch: The current CBA expires after the 2020 season, which officially begins March 18. If a new agreement is reached before then, this expansion could go into effect immediately.
My thoughts on the Daytona 500, my first-ever NASCAR experience:
MILAN — Atalanta continued their dream debut Champions League campaign with a 4-1 win over Valencia (highlights).
MANCHESTER, England — Kevin de Bruyne scored one goal and assisted on another as Manchester City coasted past West Ham, 2-0, in the club's first game since receiving a two-year ban from the Champions League for financial violations.
Photo: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
QB-turned-commentator Tony Romo is the object of a bidding war between CBS and ESPN that could reportedly see him become the highest-paid sportscaster in history.
What they're saying: ESPN veteran Dan Patrick, who left the network in 2007, thinks Romo should stay at CBS, warning that a move to ESPN would likely increase his workload, which may not appeal to him.
"He's going to get paid, so now it's not about money. Because whatever ESPN going to offer, CBS can match that. If I'm Tony Romo and I have something great with Jim Nantz, and I get to still play golf ... I don't have to go on 'Get Up' with Mike Greenberg, I don't have to do the 'Will Cain Show' in the afternoon. I basically get to do the CBS main game, and I can go golf."
"ESPN — and I've told this to quite a few of these athletes who have become analysts — while it's great, understand you're going to be pulled quite a few ways. You're going to be doing radio shows, TV shows, and then you're going to do the Monday night game, and then you have to be available on Tuesday as well.
"There's a lot more involved when you take that role with ESPN, because there's so many different entities to serve. To me it's a no-brainer. If the money's going to be the same? No-brainer."
The other side: Patrick assumes CBS will match any offer Romo receives, but one TV executive told Front Office Sports the opposite, suggesting that ESPN could be willing to pay $14 million annually, while CBS' max offer is closer to $8 million.
Nine years ago today, Kobe Bryant had 37 points, 14 rebounds and three steals en route to winning his fourth All-Star Game MVP (tied with Bob Petit for the most ever) — an award that is now named after him.
The NYT Magazine followed esports organization 100 Thieves for a year. The result is a fascinating look inside the gaming gold rush, and writer Robert Capps does a great job drawing a clear distinction between "competitive pros" and "lifestyle gamers."
Alex Ovechkin, whose Capitals host the Canadiens on national TV tonight (7pm ET, NBCSN) has the third-most power play goals in NHL history (259).
Answer at the bottom.
🏈 Changes are coming to the combine, and the bench press may be killed next (Kalyn Kahler, SI)
"The bench press will still be a part of this year's combine, but ... they are considering eliminating it in the future in an effort to modernize and make sure that each component of the combine is applicable to football."
🏀 Baylor was known for its offense. Now it's winning with defense. (Josh Planos, FiveThirtyEight)
"The top-ranked Baylor men's basketball team hasn't lost in more than three months and is riding a Big 12-record 23-game win streak. This isn't the first stint at No. 1 for the school under head coach Scott Drew, but this team is nothing like previous iterations of his Bears."
🏒 How many hockey teams does it take to make a conference? (Pat Borzi, NYT)
"Seven of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association's remaining men's programs plan to leave the league. Now there's a scramble to add schools willing to travel between Alaska and Alabama to play."
Kendall "Bubba's best bud" Baker
Trivia answer: Patrick Marleau and Steven Stamkos